I passed by a woman today, Lord. It seemed a very strange sight for our small town, for unlike the bigger cities, we don't often see someone standing at a corner by one of our busiest roads with a sign in their hand. Oh, sometimes we might see your occasional person holding signs promoting a charity car wash, selling cheap pizzas, or advertising a church bake sale. But signs begging for food are a rare occurrence in our little part of the world.
Maybe it was because the sight isn't very common, I was struck by it for miles after I had passed her by. I thought about all the kinds of things that could force a person into such a humiliating position. To subject themselves to the stares, laughter, jeers, and taunting of those less than compassionate.
Could she have been affected by one of the many company layoffs that have left area families with no means of being self-sufficient? Had her unemployment benefits ran out before she was able to secure another means of support for her family? Is there a parent absent from the home who refuses to provide for his children? Or does she live with a spouse who spends his earning on an addiction to alcohol or drugs? Or is there an addiction of her own? Been turned away by family or friends from whom she had asked for help?
As the list grew in my mind, the sorrow in my heart increased as well. I know, I know. A lot of people would probably laugh as much at me as some laughed at her. They'd say I was just a little too naive. That my sympathies were misplaced. That whatever predicament that the woman was in was more than likely no one's fault but her own. That there was no need for me to help her because there are other people or agencies where she could go for help. That she in all probability wouldn't use the money anyone gave her for food anyhow. Probably just an alcoholic needing another bottle, or a junkie dying for her next fix.
Ok. Maybe. But what if she's not? What if her family is truly in need? And how are we to know which truth is hers?
As quickly as I ask these questions, I am reminded that regardless of her intentions, I am not held accountable for her actions. It is between no one except herself and You, Lord, how she uses any help she receives. I only answer to You for what I did or did not do. You alone will know if I offered her what I was able, or couldn't get away from her fast enough.
Brought to mind was Matthew 25:35-40, where You have told us that all that we do for our fellow man in need, You consider the same as having been done directly for You. Even as poorly as my imperfect mind can comprehend what that truly means, I am in awe. I'm amazed that anything as seemingly small and insignificant as a crust of bread, a glass of water, a warm smile or a kind word could possibly touch Your heart in such a way.
Maybe her reality is more complicated than I can even imagine. But the simple truth that prevails in my heart is the realization that I have an opportunity here to perhaps be the only sign of You that this woman sees today. Or this week. Or this year. Maybe she has never seen anyone do a truly self-less act in Your name, or maybe it's been so long she's decided that You've forgotten her.
What a wonderful chance this could be Lord! If only... if only I take it. Should I? Only if I am doing it for Your sake and not my own. Only if I'm doing it to make You proud of me rather than boosting my own pride.
Alright, Lord. I'm turning around. If people gawk, let them. For maybe they need to see someone act like You as much as she does. If they laugh, let them. I'm more interested in making You smile than worried about whether they laugh or not. If they have negative things to say, let them. It's more important that I react to Your voice than theirs.
Thank You for this opportunity, Lord. Thank You for entrusting this chance to serve You to my hands. I'll not let You down.
I love You, Lord.
Michelle, I highly commend you for the courage to write and post this. You may get some negative feedback, but be assured, you are right on track. It is not public opinion that ushers us into Heaven's gates, but the opinion of Christ. If you displease Him, then it makes no difference who you please. You might be interested in reading my "Mister, It's Cold Outside" here at FW. Thanks for sharing. Thomas www.dustonthebible.com